GENERAL BLIZZARD NEWS
Collected Works: Jeff Kaplan.
This article was originally published in issue 307 of Edge, back in May 2017. The game director of Overwatch on false starts and new beginnings at one of the world’s most storied studios.
Blizzard is working on several Warcraft and Diablo games despite layoffs
BoxeR is the latest addition to the Esports Hall of Fame
Tespa Collegiate Series: StarCraft II Team Brawl
All systems, go! After an exciting preseason that saw eight teams earning a guaranteed spot in the spring season, we’re ready to kick off the 2019 StarCraft II Tespa Collegiate Series - Team Brawl. Students of all skill levels, across the US and Canada, are invited to sign up and represent their schools. Teams that qualify will compete in nine weeks of play, fighting to be one of the eight teams to compete in the Final Bracket.
StarCraft II Esports in 2019
Seven new 2019 SEASON 1 Maps have come out, tending towards beautiful, lush green landscapes.
Blizzard announced the rest of the Starcraft Esports schedule, with WCS Spring and Summer to both take place live in Kiev, Ukraine, replacing Dreamhack Valencia, Dallas and Leipzig.
WCS Fall will take place at DreamHack Montreal. Three Challenger Series, 3 GSLs, 2 GSL SuperTournaments and GSL vs The World fill out the remaining schedule.
Blizzard also revised their recent policy change restricting players from competing in both Season 1 of GSL and Season 1 of WCS Challenger. Intending to limit the number of WCS Circuit players who would compete in the Korean tournament, the rule change succeeded, as all the usual foreigners except Scarlett pulled out of the GSL competition. Season 2 and 3 will return to the 2018 rules.
In addition, Blizzard announced plans to release a second War Chest later this the year.
In WCS Winter EU, Serral advanced first out of his group undefeated. Reynor, uThermal, HeRoMaRinE, Elazer, Harstem, Lambo, MaNa, Namshar, Rail, Hellraiser and PtitDrogo also advanced, with Nerchio falling out 0-4. ShowTime, Zanster, SortOf and HateMe play later today.
In WCS Winter NA, Neeb advanced undefeated, with TIME, Probe, Rex, MaSa, Astrea, Coffee and Silky. Has, puCK, Firefly and PSiArc play later today.
Group Stage 2 begins February 14 for both regions.
BroodWar Patch 1.22.3 has arrived.
The first season of 2019 has officially begun Featuring New Zerg themed ranked play rewards.
New features have been added to the WCS GameHeart Extension Mod, which will now automatically prevent skins from being displayed for players but Skins will be visible to Observers.
GSL Season 1
Two GSL players received the NesTea award for 10 consecutive Code S appearances this week: Classic and Losira. They are the ninth and tenth players to accomplish the feat.
MC joined ROOT Gaming this week. One of the most decorated players of all time, MC retired from pro-gaming to become a League of Legends coach, but looked anything but rusty in the lead off match of the GSL Group Stages, easily defeating Stats, last years BlizzCon's Finalist, before being knocked out himself. Emerging from the Group Stages so far are Dark and Dear, Classic and Trap, Gumiho and Cure, SoS and Bunny. Maru and Scarlett are next to play along with soO, INnoVation, TY, Zest and Rogue in Groups E through H.
ASL Season 7
Round of 16 Group Stage have just begun with EffOrt and Horang2 advancing over GuemChi and PianO.
IEM KATOWICE 2019,
Season 13 Group Stages begin Feb 25th - March 3rd.
Starcraft 2 In Wine & Select Games Could See Nice Performance Win With RadeonSI Patches
I admit Im not entirely sure what this article says.
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At the Ladies Only Banshee Tournament, Miyamori defeated Kyla to win this week after defeating the undefeated Ladies Champion, Tilea, in the Round of 4. Miyamori was found to be male however, a player named Kiyj who last week disrupted the Banshee Tournament by playing using the name of another regular player, Ragnarokette. Accordingly the prize money was revoked and split among the remaining top 3 players. Tilea announced her semi retirement a few days later for undisclosed reasons, but plans to co-cast future Banshee Tournaments with ZombieGrub and perhaps will play if the opportunity presents. 💜
Zest won the BaseTradeTV TING Open Season 5 over Cure, one of the longest tournaments in Starcraft history due to scheduling issues.
Congratulations to Astrea for winning the 1st season of The NA Apprentice Tournament for up and coming players.
Innovation defeated soO to win the OlimoLeague Winter Grand Finals.
Indy, a Polish caster, won the QLash Casters Invitational after the Caster JimRising was unable to compete in the Live Finals and was replaced by French Caster Yogo.
SAIDA and Locutus advanced out of the Round of 4 in the SSCAIT, Student StarCraft AI Tournament. SAIDA is created by the Samsung Corporation and currently tied with Locutus with a Win Loss Percentage at 95.77%.
Bly won this weeks Wardi Arena but in WCS Winter Europe failed to advance out of Group A. uThermal, MaNa, HeRoMaRinE, and Rail have advanced at this time with 6 Groups yet to complete. SpeCial, MCanning, Scarlett and Epic have advanced on the WCS Winter Americas side. Groups C and D for both will play out this weekend, E through H on February 7th through the tenth.
Dark and Dear advanced out of Group A in GSL Season 1 Code S Round of 32. Group B consisting of Classic, TRUE, Losira and Trap play February 7th. Stats, MC, Cure and GuMiho play on February 8th. Scarlett was the only foreigner to qualify this season and plays Maru, RagnaroK and herO in Group E on February 13th. GSL will take a hiatus in three weeks to allow its Korean players to compete in IEM Katowice.
An AI crushed two human pros at StarCraft—but it wasn’t a fair fight
AlphaStar may be the strongest StarCraft AI ever created. But it wasn't quite as big of an accomplishment as it might appear.
Top StarCraft players can issue instructions to their units very quickly. Grzegorz "MaNa" Komincz averaged 390 actions per minute (more than six actions per second!) over the course of his games against AlphaStar. But of course, a computer program can easily issue thousands of actions per minute, allowing it to exert a level of control over its units that no human player could match.
To avoid that, DeepMind says it put a hard cap on the number of actions per minute AlphaStar could make. "We set a maximum of 600 APMs over 5-second periods, 400 over 15-second periods, 320 over 30-second periods, and 300 over 60-second period," wrote DeepMind researcher Oriol Vinyals in a reddit AMA following the demonstration.
But as other redditors quickly pointed out, five seconds is a long time in a StarCraft game. These limits seem to imply that AlphaStar could take 50 actions in a single second or 15 actions per second for three seconds.
More importantly, AlphaStar has the ability to make its clicks with surgical precision using an API, whereas human players are constrained by the mechanical limits of computer mice. And if you watch a pro like Komincz play, you'll see that the number of raw actions often far exceeds the number of meaningful actions.
And as I mentioned earlier, the API used by AlphaStar in its initial games gave it a godlike view of the entire battlefield (albeit only those portions of the battlefield within range of one of AlphaStar's units). If a human player wants to take actions in two different parts of the board, he has to first take the extra step of moving the camera to the new location. When AlphaStar was forced to use the camera as well, MaNa was able to defeat it.
It's not yet clear if the camera restrictions introduced last week are sufficient to make the fight truly fair. AlphaStar is still accessing information about the game through a specialized API that's different from the rendering shown to human players. This API may allow the software to glean more information and issue instructions more quickly and precisely than would be possible for a human player.
The DeepMind StarCraft AI May Have Been 'Cheating' After All
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DeepMind Starcraft II Demonstration took place on DeepMind's YouTube channel on January 24th, with Tim Morton the Lead Producer of StarCraft, Oriol Vinyals the lead of the DeepMind Team casters RotterDam and Artosis, Dave Silver co lead of the DeepMind , and Pro Starcraft players TLO and Mana of Team Liquid.
First announced in 2016 at BlizzCon, DeepMind has previously defeated Chess and Go.
After a brief chat about the history of the DeepMind StarCraft project, TLO, a top Zerg player for Team Liquid who is known for creative strategies, spoke about his experience as the first professional Starcraft player to compete against DeepMind, first playing 100 games as Protoss as preparation in the week leading up to the match.
Artosis and RotterDam cast 2 of the more interesting of the 5 matches, explaining the differences between a human and the AI, and the strategies involved, with discussion of the other 3 between matches.
DeepMind sees 30 screens a minute as he moves around the map to gives new unit orders, a similar rate to a SC pro and has been limited to a somewhat human speed which can go as high as 700 or more Actions Per Minute instead of the 3500 DeepMind was capable of at that time in the week before Christmas. Moreover, DeepMind has no "mindset". Human players choose a favorite unit or strategy style and become known by it, as well as understand the current meta of the game, but DeepMind has trained only against copies of itself called AlphaStar that compete using wildly different strategies rather than copying a meta, and TLO played 5 different versions of DeepMind instead of one, leading him to make assumptions of how it would play that turned out to harm his own play instead.
DeepMind uses "Imitation learning" from replays to try to understand the basics of Starcraft and imitate each particular move. The AlphaStar matches became known as the League, creating a diversity of strategies and over time a whole new set of strategies emerged onto the ladder. Sometimes proxy strategies emerged. One week of DeepMind training is equivalent to 200 years of human Starcraft.
One AlphaStar version made the mistake of massing up to 18 disruptors, far more than the 4 or 5 maximum of the human meta and blew chunks out of TLO's army anytime his reactions werent fast enough to avoid their shots.
All AlphaStars regularly made 24 drones rather than the long accepted human meta of 16 per nexus, a "mistake" but because of it, TLOs attacks that would normally cripple a nexus' worker count clipped redundant workers instead to little if any effect.
Human players handle going up a narrow ramp into a defended enemy base with extreme caution, whereas AlphaStar with its inhuman micro had no fear at all, surprising the human player unused to it, leading to more losses.
And worst of all, AlphaStar demonstrated perfect micro at all times, able to individually move units at the precise time and location needed, as all of the best AIs have demonstrated, but to an extremely high level so that units near to death were removed and fresh units continuing the fight until tiny mistakes made by TLO led to the loss of his armies by a thousand paper cuts.
All 5 matches are available to watch on www.deepmind.com or the DeepMind YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUTMhmVh1qs and strongly bring SkyNet to mind.
A week later after more training time for DeepMind, AlphaStar faced top Protoss, MaNa in another 5 games, 2 or 3 of which are shown on the video.
With only a week, DeepMind showed clear improvement.
The Demonstration ended with analysis, some videos of how the DeepMind team had reacted to the ten pro matches, and a Live show match with MaNa.
soO defeated ParTing in the chinese Masters Coliseum 4 tournament
Probots 2019 Season 1, a StarCraft AI tournament, has begun at https://www.twitch.tv/eschamp/
Bombastic StarLeague 6 Nation Wars. Starcraft Brood War has its own NationWars underway with Peru, Russia, Poland and Chile advancing from the ladder. Only players living outside of South Korea can participate in BSL. The top 5 players from each country form a Nation team.
StarCraft: Soldiers #1 has come out.
IEM KATOWICE 2019, Season 13 Patience, INnoVation, & Maru qualified from NA. SpeCiaL, Neeb and uThermal from EU. They join the WCS 2018 Global Champion Serral. Dark, Bunny, Zest, TY and Rogue have qualified from Korea. Group Stages begin Feb 28th - March 1st.
WCS Winter will be starting on January 31st!
2019 GSL Season 1 Code A Qualifiers begin Jan. 23rd (Wed.) & Jan. 24th
AfreecaTV StarCraft League Season 7 Group Stages Group E and F will play out on Jan 27th and 29th. Larva, Horang2, Snow, pianO, Best, Sacrsi, Mind and Modesty have already qualified.
IEM Katowice 2019
We’re excited to announce that StarCraft II will once again be featured at Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice Grand Finals on March 3, players will be battling it out for their share of a prize pool worth over USD $400,000.
There will be an on-site qualifier at the ESL studio in Katowice on February 25–26. Keep an eye on the official IEM website.
2018 World Championship Series champion Joona “Serral” Sotala has accepted his invitation to compete and will be seeded directly into the Round of 24.
The Pylon Show, a Starcraft Podcast
With Artosis and iNcontroL every Wednesday! Also available on YouTube and as a podcast.
Tespa is excited to announce new spring programs for Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm, and Rocket League! Over the past decade, over 30,000 students have competed in Tespa competitive leagues, spanning 7 different games and awarding over $3M in scholarships! Leagues are open to all Tespa members, regardless of college or chapter status.
Daily and Weekly Tournaments here
An AI is playing Pictionary to figure out how the world works
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
2.5 per cent of core PC users played Diablo III in January, six month high for Blizzard's dungeon crawler
Blizzard is working on several Warcraft and Diablo games despite layoffs
Want a Little More Diablo in Your Life? You Can Have it with the Book of Adria
HEROES OF THE STORM
OTHER BLIZZARD RELATED STUFF
Sources for these news bits include: